Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #15

Re: Up (2009)

Thank you for your interesting review of Up. I thought the film was “cute”, but I was personally disappointed after all the hype. Something bothered me (besides the repetitive soundtrack): there were a lot of violent elements in the film (life-threatening situations for the heroes). I understand this is a cartoon, but at the same time, this is not a film with talking cars, superheroes, animated toys, or talking animals (well … okay). We have a character who tries to kill the young Wilderness Explorer not once, not twice but three times (the last time with a shotgun!). When the crazy guy falls to his death, there is no reaction from our “heroes” (not even shock or horror) — their only concern is for the house (and for the weird bird). This situation kinda felt odd in a film geared to young kids.

I’ve just returned from taking my whole family (wife and six kids from 14 to infant) to see Up for my second time and everyone else’s first time. I loved it even more the second time around.

It is very difficult to classify Up generically with respect to expectations about realism. The movie is such a wonky pastiche of genres and moods, from heart-rending poignancy to surreal silliness, that I think it has to be taken on its own terms or not at all.

Up takes place in a world in which death and tragedy are realities, in which expectant mothers miscarry and elderly couples are parted by illness and death. It is also a world in which the elusiveness of unfulfilled dreams can lead to very different destinations.

Both Carl Fredrickson and Charles Muntz spent the better part of their lives pursuing a dream that never materialized. The difference is that Fredrickson found something else to live for, and Muntz didn’t. Fredrickson dealt with disappointment and finally grief in basically healthy ways — though the possibility of descending into bitterness and morbidity is definitely there — where Muntz was increasingly devoured by fury, obsession and the all-consuming mania to vindicate himself to the world.

So, even though Russell is no part of either man’s immediate sphere of interest, Carl makes room in his world to care about and look after Russell, while for Muntz — whom the film implies may have killed before in his mad quest to be the one to catch the Lost World bird — Russell is either a threat, a liability or a bargaining chip.

The mood at the moment of his death is not shock or horror; it is, I think, exhausted relief that he is no longer a threat. That seems appropriate to me. I can see someone feeling that the character didn’t have to die, but I think he had become twisted enough that it was an appropriate ending, if not a necessary one.

Link to this entry

Coming Soon

Recently Added

In Theaters – Latest

In Theaters – All